To Combat Overdose Deaths, a Local Non-Profit Now Offers a Test for Drug Purity
Prince reportedly didn’t even know that he was taking the opioid. Accidental overdoses are becoming more common as it is cheap to produce and is often substituted without the user’s knowledge for more expensive and less potent drugs like heroin.
The drug which can be absorbed through the skin can be fatal even in relatively small doses. One police officer almost died after merely brushing fentanyl residue from his clothing with his bare hands.
Brandie Wilson, Executive Director for HACHR, the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction, explained that the California State Office of Aids which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services provided the grant that enabled the local non-profit to buy the fentanyl testing strips.
“Currently we are the only ones in Humboldt County who has them,” she said. “We are putting the kits together today. [To get them,] you can call us or stop by.” Besides the strips, the kit contains instructions, resource information, and an explanation of the purpose, she said.
Wilson explained that to test a substance for fentanyl, a little bit is mixed with sterile water and dripped on the strip. If one line appears, this shows that fentanyl is present. When two lines appear that means none is present.
Wilson says she hopes the strips which are available starting today “reduce our absurdly high rates of drug overdoses.”
HACHR also carries supplies of Narcan (naloxone) that are available to those that need it. “[Naloxone] is an opiate antagonist,” Wilson explained. “In the event of an opiate overdose, it will reverse the effects for 30 to 90 minutes…This allows time to get the victim help…. It’s a lifesaver.”
She added that just in 2016 alone in our area, “We have 112 people alive because of it.”
Those seeking access to either the testing strips or to naloxone can either drop by HACHR’s office at 924 5th Street in Eureka and or call (707) 407-6013.